October 3, 2022 /
Christina Hester

Keep Cool DC

Last week, Casey Trees attended a presentation on Keep Cool DC – the District’s comprehensive strategy to adapt to hotter days by reducing the driving factors of extreme heat and protecting District residents from the dangers of high temperatures. This plan will make sure that residents have the knowledge and resources to stay cool during heat emergencies and will guide the District’s efforts to make our neighborhoods more resilient to heat.  

 Right here, in Washington DC, summer temperatures are projected to increase by up to 10 degrees over the next 60 years and the number of heat emergency days is expected to triple by 2050. Extreme heat is a dangerous hazard that can pose serious health risks to people. Heat can also cause significant infrastructural and economic challenges. While hot weather may seem like just an inconvenience to some, it can be deadly. Extreme heat is the leading cause of climate-related deaths in the United States. 

The Keep Cool DC plan presents several strategies for “cooling down” and staying safe, such as: Increasing Cool Spaces, Designing for Heat, Educating Residents about Heat Risks, and the big one we’re going to focus on today – Enhancing Tree Equity. 

The plan describes Tree Equity as increasing equitable access to healthy, well-maintained trees. As we know, trees are vital to health and climate resilience, and as well as Casey Trees, the District has established ambitious goals to expanding tree canopy. Here are a few ways that we can work towards tree equity in an ever-changing climate: 

Cool Trees – By choosing heat resilient tree species, we can ensure a healthy canopy that can survive predicted rises in temperatures while still providing a cooling, shady canopy. Some species that this could include are Ash, Buckeye, Catalpa, Cedar, Hackberry, Oak, Pine, Poplar, and Linden trees.  

Trees For All – By prioritizing public tree plantings where they are needed most, particularly lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color that are experiencing the highest heat vulnerability. Also targeting and expanding incentive programs such as RiverSmart to encourage private property tree plantings in these areas. 

Tree Communities – Through partnering with community-based organizations, we’re able to expand residents’ relationships with trees through participation in planting and maintenance. Much like what we do at Casey Trees Community Events! 

Tree Protection – Ensure that trees in both public and private spaces have sufficient soil access by investing in structural soil. This would provide existing and future trees with the space to grow while ensuring their long-term health. 

Visit Keep Cool DC to learn more about the Districts strategic plan against climate change and heat emergencies.